Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles are over 90 percent vaccinated and why that's so critical


Over 90 percent of the Eagles’ players have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, Howie Roseman said Wednesday, and considering the NFL's new set of rules, that’s huge.

The NFL has instituted separate sets of protocols governing training camps this summer - one for vaccinated players and one for non-vaccinated players.

The differences are enormous, which is why that 90 percent figure is so important.

“We’re really excited about where we are from a team perspective,” Roseman said after the Eagles’ initial training camp practice at the NovaCare Complex. “We’re over 90 percent of guys … who have started the process and will be (fully) vaccinated. 

“All we’re trying to do is educate them. Give them the information. We understand it’s a very personal decision, and we’re doing a great job with it.”

Players who aren’t full vaccinated must wear masks in the team facility, can’t lift with their teammates except in small groups, can’t eat with their teammates, can’t use the sauna or steam room, can’t leave the team hotel during road trips and must quarantine for at least 10 days if they test positive or have a high-risk exposure. They can’t even sit with their teammates in team meetings.

There are essentially two teams: The vaccinated team and the non-vaccinated.

Considering the Eagles have 90 players on the roster and Roseman said “over 90 percent,” that means at least 82 players have received their first shot, so only eight or fewer have not.

This has real football implications because obviously the more the team can work, eat, lift and meet together the better off it is.

“That’s your choice, but I feel like when you see what vaccinated can do and what non-vaccinated can do, you start to lean on ‘Let me get vaccinated,’ because you don’t want to be able to not do certain things,” Brandon Graham said as he began his 11th training camp with the Eagles.

“You don’t want be able to not lift with your teammates. I think last year that was the toughest part for Doug (Pederson) because Doug was big on being together, and that six feet (of distancing) was kind of messing with him a little bit. As a team you don’t really get to have that bond as much if you can’t do stuff together or you can’t do it in a way that you used to. You’ve got to be over here to talk to a guy rather than be up close. It’s just different. 

“But I think hopefully we get to 100 (percent) because at this time in our lives we’ve got to make sure we’re safe. This stuff ain’t nothing to play with.”

On teams with low vaccination rates, it’s easy to see a fissure forming between those who’ve received the shots and those who haven’t. The higher that rate is, the more the focus can simply be football.

Then there’s the regular-season implications. If a team has to forfeit a game because of a COVID outbreak, everybody loses a game check, not just those who weren’t vaccinated. So the league has created a lot of motivation for players to receive the shots.

“Hopefully, we can keep going in this direction,” Jason Kelce said. “With the Delta variant creeping up, who knows, right? Just have to follow the protocols day by day. 

“But just having the tables back in the cafeteria and being able to sit down and talk to somebody, that’s something you couldn’t do last year. You don’t realize it, but once that comes back you realize that’s one of my favorite things about playing football. It’s pretty awesome.”

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